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A new study raises questions about the usefulness of the antiviral flu drug Tamiflu in preventing and treating the flu in children, indicating that the harmful effects may not be justified by the limited benefits provided.
Researches from the University of Oxford published a report in the British Medical Journal that compiles data from several previous studies looking at the side effects of Tamiflu for children. The report found that while the treatments reduce the duration of the flu in children, it provides little, if any, benefit in preventing them from spreading it to others or reducing secondary complications, such as ear infections and asthma flare-ups. The data also suggested that children were more likely than adults to suffer Tamiflu side effects, such as nausea and vomiting.
The report looked at several older trials taken from previous flu seasons and 1,766 children treated with either Tamiflu or Relenza. Researchers said that their findings indicate that 13 children need to be treated to prevent one case of another child getting the flu.
The new report comes on the heels of two studies published in the Eurosurveillance scientific journal in July that found that more than half of all children given Tamiflu suffered side effects that included nausea, nightmares and insomnia.
Findings of the recent reports may effect how countries approach the treatment of the H1N1 influenza strain, also known as “swine flu”. However, researchers in the Oxford report cautioned that there has not been enough study of the effects of antivirals on children, and that their data came from a woefully small amount of children observed in far too few studies.